Wings GM Ken Holland pleased with where team is at midway through season

DETROIT >> Halfway through the 2014-15 NHL season and the Wings have 53 points and are three points behind Tampa Bay for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

You give general manager Ken Holland that same point total in the second half and he’ll take it.

“You’d like to get 106 points,” Holland said in a phone interview Thursday. “Certainly the second half it’s harder to get points. We’ve got more road games to play the second half than the first half, but I like where we’re positioned.”

Detroit plays 23 of its next 41 on the road.

“I think we’ve played ourselves in a position after 41 games where we control our own fate,” Holland said. “We’ve had lots of positives. Certainly there are some areas we’re hoping these kids that are 23, 24 or 25, they get another 40 games under their belts it’s just a little more experience so hopefully they can continue to get better and we can grow as a team.”

Holland is quite pleased with a number of things halfway through the season.

— Jimmy Howard (16 wins, 2.08 goals-against, .921 save percentage)

— Tomas Tatar (16 goals), Gustav Nyquist (15 goals)

— power play (24.5 percent, ranked second)

— penalty kill (86.8 percent, ranked fourth)

“I think Mike Babcock has done a nice job of developing some people for roles on our team,” Holland said. “We don’t have to use (Pavel Datsyuk) or (Henrik Zetterberg) on penalty killing or defensive situations as much as we’ve had to do three or four years ago so I think we’re a little bit deeper because of the development of some of our younger people.”

The team has also been able to avoid any lengthy injuries to its top players unlike the last two seasons.

During end-of-season meetings a year ago with players, Holland and Babcock stressed to players trying to work a little bit harder and maybe try some different things in the offseason.

They also had internal meetings with their doctors and trainers about the importance of soft tissue injures.

“We’ve been able to put most of your people out on a night to night basis has been a factor that’s helped us get 53 points in 41 games,” Holland said.

A couple negatives – going 1-7 in shootouts and the lack of scoring 5-on-5 goals of late.

“If we get three more points in shootouts we’d be tied with Tampa Bay,” Holland said. “Five-on-five scoring dried up a little bit, but our power play has been really humming and it’s won us some games. We’re with a bunch of teams in the middle of the pack so we’re not way under. We’re hoping we can roll four lines that can chip in.”

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